Early Settlers – Jacob and Louisa Welsch, Trotter Cemetery, Edwards County, Kansas
Jacob Welsch was born in Germany in 1838. At the age of 8, his family came to America and settled in Ohio. As a young man, Jacob worked on the city canal system.
Jacob’s wife, Louisa Goettge, was also born in Germany in 1840 and came with her family to America when she was two years old. The two were united in marriage on August 5, 1860, in Ohio.
When the Civil War broke out, Pvt. Welsch enlisted in Co. C 189th OH Infantry where he fell ill. He was brought back to Ohio on a stretcher. His illness affected him the rest of his life which was why he came to Kansas. The first three of their children were born in Ohio before moving west to Iowa. The family spent ten years in Iowa and during that time seven more children were added to the Welsch family.
Jacob probably suffered from respiratory issues and the drier climate of western Kansas was the prescribed treatment. Jacob and Louisa brought their nine children to southeastern Edwards County in the fall of 1879. The last three of their 12 children were born there.
Shortly after their arrival, a special election was held to organize Franklin Township. Jacob was elected a trustee. He was also the first director of School District #17.
The Welsch family faced all the hardships of early settlers and celebrated the joys that life brings. The first death of the family occurred in 1884 as their eleven-year-old son died (cause unknown). The fall and winter of 1902 were one of hardship as several members of the family contracted typhoid fever. Jacob, Louisa, and three of their sons were affected by the disease. The parents recovered along with their sons, William and Thomas, but Albert passed away on November 27th at the age of 21.
Jacob and Louisa lived a long and prosperous life, Jacob died in 1917 and Louisa in 1922. They share the same stone in Trotter Cemetery.
The rest of the story: The symptoms the Welsch family experienced were high fever, overall weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, and headaches. Physicians would use turpentine, quinine, and brandy to treat it. The treatment at this time was the Typhoid is caused by a bacterium and is spread by eating or drinking contaminated water.
Note: Typhoid fever has been traced back to 430-424 BC where an epidemic struck Athens, Greece. By the 1860s, many scientific and medical developments were made including how it was transmitted. However, it was not enough to save about 80,000 soldiers who died of typhoid fever or dysentery in the US Civil War (1861-1865). In the late 19th century, scientists identified the bacteria which caused typhoid.
Throughout the 20th century, cases of typhoid fever declined as vaccinations and improvements in public sanitation and hygiene occurred. In 1909, a typhoid fever vaccine was created and given to soldiers in the army. The vaccine was released to the public in 1914. 1